Teaching falls under the category of volunteer tourism, a popular travel trend in recent years. Many North Americans (typically recent college graduates) travel abroad to teach English for a year in Europe or Asia. This allows them to travel while at the same time still maintain a decent income. Typically you do not need to be a teacher to volunteer abroad, and often no TEFL or TESOL qualification is required. Generally, all that is required is a good standard of spoken and written English, thus making teaching a volunteer tourist occupation.
Pros and Cons
One of the biggest benefits of teaching English abroad is how easy it is to get a job.
No teaching degree is required, and sometimes not even a certificate is required. It is not unheard of to go to India, China, or Thailand and get a teaching job within a week. Unfortunately, teaching English overseas is not the most financially rewarding profession. Typically, teachers earn between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. Still, this may go a long way depending on where you are located ($1,000 a month is more than enough to live comfortably in Thailand, for example). Teachers generally have to commit to one full year at a school, which can be a positive for some people if they really enjoy the place they are staying, but can be a negative for those who wish to travel or do not like staying in one place for an extended period of time.
Spain is one of the most popular destinations for people wishing to teach English abroad. The list of reasons to teach and live in Spain never ends: the sparkling beaches of the Costra del Sol and the legendary nightlife of Ibiza are just two of the many, many reasons to spend a year teaching in Spain. Each year the Spanish government recruits over 1,000 Americans to work in Spanish state schools, while many others work in private language institutes catering primarily to adults who wish to develop their English skills. Vietnam and South Korea are also popular destinations. While they may not offer the glamour of living in Spain, they are certainly more affordable and it is incredibly easy to gain employment while there.
The Road Less Travelled
While everyone knows about South Korea and Vietnam, Cambodia is quietly becoming a popular destination for teaching English. The exciting people and warm climate make Cambodia a very attractive place to live for a year. Cambodia is also a very budget friendly destination, and it allows travellers to actually save money while still experiencing a nice quality of life. Azerbajian is another up and coming destination. Sitting between Europe and Asia, English is slowly but surely replacing Russian as the main language, which is creating a high demand for English teachers. The capital city of Baku provides the most opportunity, and although the cost of living is fairly high, the pay is generally better than in a place like Vietnam or South Korea.
Costs and Savings
Before you go, it is important to ensure you have all the necessary qualifications. While a teaching degree is generally not needed, most places require some form of certification that proves you are able to teach English. These certifications can be quite expensive and may take a few months to obtain, so it is important to look into it early. Once you start working full time, you should earn enough to cover your daily expenses, but it may be smart to have a little bit of money saved up to buy you some time before your wages start coming in.